Holidaymakers urged to be vigilant from scams as lockdown restrictions ease

Fraudsters are poised to target the British public with ticketing, travel and health insurance scams as consumers look to book in much-needed social activities as lockdown restrictions ease, warns UK Finance. The scam alert comes as the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign publishes guidance below on how consumers can protect themselves in the lead-up to further easing of lockdown restrictions from 17 May.

With many people booking holidays and tickets to concerts and summer festivals, criminals are staying one step ahead by advertising holidays and tickets at low prices or for sold out events, illegally profiting from consumers who are looking for good deals or wanting to attend fully booked events. In some instances, scammers are charging people for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is available free of charge, or advertising fake ‘vaccine certificates’ online.

Experts at impersonating trusted organisations such as travel agencies and hospitality firms, these fraudsters are using a range of sophisticated methods to approach their victims, including scam emails, telephone calls, fake websites and posts on social media. To stay safe when booking holidays and tickets, people are reminded to always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information in case it’s a scam.

Travel deal scams

Criminals will set up fake websites offering ‘travel deals’ which are used to obtain your money and information. Websites may look similar to the genuine organisation’s but subtle changes in the URL can indicate that it’s fraudulent. These websites may also seem professional and convincing, using images of luxury villas and apartments that don’t exist to convince victims they’re trusted and genuine. These are offered for rent, often at discounted prices and require a deposit to be made which is never returned.

Always remember:
  • Be suspicious of any “too good to be true” offers or prices – if it’s at a rock bottom price ask yourself why.
  • Where possible, book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company/agent that is a member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL. If you do decide to book independently, establish if you’re dealing with the property owner or a letting agent or via the local tourist information desk, and verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps.
  • Always access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it in to the web browser and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or social media posts. The website should use the padlock symbol to indicate that the site is secure.
  • Always use the secure payment options recommended by reputable online travel providers and don’t accept requests to pay separately via a bank transfer.
  • Where possible, use a credit card when booking holidays over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.
    If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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